When I was a young man in preacher school (also known as seminary), I had to do a two-hour presentation on the merger of the EUB Church with The Methodist Church, forming the United Methodist Church. Rather than do so much work, I remembered that retired Bishop Reuben Mueller was living in Franklin at our retirement home. Bishop Mueller was instrumental in the merger and was given the privilege of being the representative of the EUB church, joining hands with Methodist Bishop Lloyd Wicke at the official merger conference. I enlisted Bishop Mueller, ailing and walking with two canes, to come to our class. It was a joy to drive this wise sage to and from my school.
When finished, I was saying good-bye in his apartment. He was sitting in an easy chair. Then he took a cane and reached behind him and rapped on a closet door. “Young man,” he said with his rough voice, “take a look in there. I want you to have something.” Inside, on the top shelf, was an entire set of Interpreter’s Bibles. A set of these was as big as a set of encyclopedias, and they were coveted by all of us who aspired to become pastors. They were several hundred dollars and well beyond my ability to purchase. “Take those home,” he said, “I hope they will do you as much good as they did me.”
Can I tell you that I went home and ran my hands over those books, leafing through page after page. For years and years I used and treasured those volumes, thinking of Bishop Mueller’s generosity every time I opened them.
Then, decades later, as I was moving to another appointment, I looked long and hard at the books, looking again at his signature inside them. They had, indeed, served me well. I said a quiet thank you, then proceeded to contact a bright young pastor, asking if he would like them, and sharing the story of how they came into my possession. Off they went, and now they are serving yet a third generation of ministers.
Those books were a gift. I was their steward. I cared for them. I used them. I grew by reading them. I shared wisdom from them. Then, I handed them off.
What gifts and blessings have come into your life, and what is your plan to make sure what you have stewarded will continue to multiply God’s work on this earth? Is it a book? A car? A tool? A recipe? A piece of property? An investment account? Friends, we who are believers are in a sacred trust. What is ours isn’t ours to hold—it is ours to care for and send to future generations.
Take time today and think about what you will pass on, what you should pass on now, and what you will pass on in the future, and who the people, churches, and ministries are that will receive them. If you need help with a plan, let us know at your Foundation—and thank you for being a good steward.
For more information about stewardship and the care of money, contact us here or call us toll free at 877-391-8811.
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Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana